I am harassed. I am molested. I am bullied. I am underestimated. I have seen it close, felt it and defended it
If the boys had not teased me, I wouldn’t have slapped them. They were harassing me. I had to teach them a lesson.
Kathmandu is home to many of us. A home is where love, respect, safety, security, harmony and bond exist. But this is lacking in Kathmandu. The city which nurtured me, my sisters and my brothers for all these years is now nurturing violence against me, a woman.
I am harassed. I am molested. I am bullied. I am underestimated. I have seen it close, felt it and defended it. It’s right before my eyes when I go to the work place, at the workplace, on my way back, at home, at playground, at college, at school, at yard behind my home, in the bus, at coffee station, everywhere. I am telling you this from my experience on January 25th.
I am passing by ‘The Rising Mall’ along Durbar Marg on my scooter in late noon. I am a confident rider but today my confidence is at stake. It’s on the verge of getting shattered because of two boys who have been staring at my thighs, legs and perhaps above. I am feeling guilty about the thing I didn’t wear. I had gloves, mask, muffler, medium-long mint green t-shirt cum one-piece (that covered my lower hip), black stockings, shoes, a yellow wind stopper jacket, a safe and proper helmet with visor pulled down. I do not have the confidence, which I always thought I had. I can see the boys in maroon aviator scooter slowing down. I could become an easy prey for them. “I should not let this happen,” I say to myself. I reach the junction. I pull my t-shirt up thinking may be stockings I am wearing are too transparent or if my dress is provocative for men. God! The boys are beside me looking at me and uttering the words I did not want to hear. I avoid them. Again I get stuck in traffic jam. They seem to be nowhere. I feel relieved. I move on.
Then we are at the same road, those boys and me, again. I speed up, they do the same. And now they tease me by singing. I feel offended. I can bear it no more. I want to teach them a lesson. I stop and draw people’s attention toward me. Then I go to them straight. They look confused. I slap the one riding pillion. His friend reacts: “What have we done, sister?”
“No, I am not your sister. I don’t want to be your sister, nor you are my brother. How dare you tease a girl, a stranger?”
They argue. I don’t give up. Then comes a police man and asks us to park our scooters by the diversion lane. People start to gather, mostly boys. We have the arguments. The boys insist they have done no wrong. I tell them and the police what they did to me. The police man grabs the one who had teased me and takes him to the police station, 10 meters away. The other boy admits to teasing. He pleads with me not to take legal action. He says that he is an IT student and he has his exam coming near.
The police officer slaps him and says he cannot be a student. Then the boy catches his ears and keeps apologizing. He promises not to do this to any other person in life. I am beginning to think I should forgive him.
But the police man suggests that I should file a case against him. The police interrogate them. They are begging for forgiveness. I thank the police and let them go.
But I cannot drive with ease. I feel nervous. I have the dreadful thoughts. Perhaps they will revenge me. I am sacred. I reach home and tell my mother about this. My mother’s reaction hurts me even more. “Why did you have to pick fight with the boys? They can put you in harm’s way. Don’t ever do that again.” I was telling her this for some reassurance. She left me vulnerable. I scream in front of the mirror.
Then I begin to reflect, did I do the right thing?
I shared this incident in Facebook with the hashtags #eve-teasing #Nepalpolice #alert #nepal #Kathmandu along with the photo of what I was wearing that day. Many praised me for standing up against the eve teasers. Others, mostly boys, commented on my dress length. Some even suggested that men could rape women if they wear provocative dress. They were concerned more about what I wore than those boys who teased me. Nobody talked about our failure to teach the boys how to respect girls and women.
What in the world is an improper dress? Culture is changing and so is the dress trend. Markets sell women’s apparels, both short and long. We live in a free country.
Had the boys not teased me, I wouldn’t have slapped them. But they were harassing me. I had no option but to teach them a lesson.
Every girl who is a victim of sexual harassment must speak up. That will give them confidence. At the same time we the girls and women also need to be alert, aware and act if we want to build a violence-free society.